Conference to redefine beauty

first_img“The goal of the Bold Beauty Conference is not to impose a rigid set of standards on what beauty is or is not.  Instead, through the conference we strive to help students expand their understanding of what and who is beautiful — to embrace and understand the beauty in difference,” senior Cassie McDonagh said. “After four years at an all-women’s college, we have seen first-hand the damage the unattainable beauty ideal has done to the females we interact with on a daily basis,” McDonagh said. “The Bold Beauty Conference helps to reverse these ideals that have been ingrained in our minds and help empower the women of our campus to overcome the narrow ideals of beauty.” Some of the project themes include an examination of how porn has lost its negative connotation and it is now pervasive, how women are hyper-sexualized and an examination of college-aged women and their thoughts on body image, sororities and femininity in light of the St. Mary’s lifestyle. The Bold Beauty Conference will take place today from 3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Saint Mary’s Student Center. “A new and exciting addition to this year’s conference will be the screening of and panel discussion about ‘Very Young Girls,’” McDonagh said. After the documentary there will be a question-and-answer session with Cait Mullen, who participated in the filming of the documentary. Mullen was also one of the drafters of New York’s groundbreaking Safe Harbor Act, the first law in the country to recognize that children who have been prostituted are victims, not criminals. The second annual Bold Beauty Conference at Saint Mary’s will aim to open the definition of beauty. “Sadly, the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is under 13 years old,” McDonagh said. “By studying the rapidly growing problem of the prostitution of children in the United States, we see the distortion and abuse of the female body in its most radical form.” Dr. Amanda Littauer, assistant professor of Women’s Studies and History at Northern Illinois University, will be speaking in Carroll Auditorium on, “Teen Girls and American Sexual Culture in the 1950’s” at 7:30 p.m.  McDonagh also expressed the need for this conference and why it is important to examine what beauty is. “The conference will host and display projects that members of Saint Mary’s Female Beauty class have been working on throughout the semester,” McDonagh said. Photoshop projects, Barbies on Parade and the Price of Beauty display will be going on during this time in Vander Vannet Theatre. Opening remarks will be at 5 p.m., followed directly by the documentary “Very Young Girls” at 6:30 p.m. Saint Mary’s Communication Studies, Dance and Theater, Women’s Studies, History and Film Studies departments are sponsoring the event.last_img read more

Senate adjusts quorum requirement, appoints Gender Relations chair

first_imgStudent Senate passed a resolution adjusting its required quorum and approved a new chair of the Gender Issues committee during its Wednesday meeting. An assembly’s quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present for the body to conduct business. Previously, Student Senate required three-fourths of its members, or 23 senators, to be in attendance to conduct the meeting. The new resolution mandates that only three-fifths of its members, or 18 senators, must be present. Ben Noe, Oversight committee chair, said if Senate does not reach quorum, senators can remain at the meeting and hear any guest speakers but the meeting will not be official. “This way, if there’s a large event going on with a large number of senators, such as all the business students, we can still have a reasonable discussion,” Noe said. He said this resolution does not relax Senate’s strict attendance policy. “You are all still required to come to Senate meetings, but now we can still have a discussion within Senate without being [impeded] by quorum,” he said. Most importantly, senators are not able to vote on resolutions or other issues if quorum is not reached. Student Senate also approved Pasquerilla East senator Katie Rose as the new chair for the Gender Issues Committee. The student government officers, as well as the previous Gender Issues chair, recommended Rose for the position because of her past experience. “I volunteer off campus with the Rape Crisis Center as an advocate for the fight against sexual violence,” Rose said. Rose has been volunteering at the Center for approximately a year and is looking forward to being chair of the Gender Issues committee. “I’ve never been more excited in my entire life,” she said.last_img read more

Top Pentagon women discuss leadership

first_imgTwo of the highest-ranked women in Pentagon history spoke Monday in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the opening discussion of the Notre Dame Forum 2013, whose theme this year is “Women in Leadership.” Ann Dunwoody, the Army’s first female four-star general, and Michèle Flournoy, former undersecretary of defense for policy and the highest-ranking civilian woman in Pentagon history, spoke to students and guests after an introduction by University President Fr. John Jenkins. Notre Dame alumna Anne Thompson of NBC News moderated the conversation. The discussion covered topics ranging from issues such as sexual assault to different leadership styles according to gender. Dunwoody said sexual assault in the military is one of the main issues that organizations like the Army must address within their own chain of command. “This is a leadership failure, in my mind,” she said. “If we expect our leaders to train our sons and daughters to fight in our nation’s war, we should expect our leaders to be able to tackle this soldier and discipline in an organization where people feel safe, and if they’re not safe that they can report it. “Until we see sexual assault as egregious as something as racial discrimination, I’m not sure we’ll be through,” she said to a round of applause. “It is a crisis, and we should recognize that and we have to hold the leadership accountable.” Dunwoody also addressed Thompson’s question of whether women in the work force “can have it all.” “I think we’ve let someone define what ‘it all’ is,” she said. “Men have ‘it all’ if they have a family and a job. Is that all? You define what is all.” Thompson asked Flournoy about obstacles she faced as a young, non-military and Democratic female entering the Pentagon workforce. “In many places, none of those things matter, but in some corners it just meant that people came in with a bias,” Flournoy said. “What I learned very early on … was that if you encounter that kind of bias, let it be the other person’s problem. “Focus on being excellent. Focus on being the best possible player in your position so that there’s absolutely no question about your competence. At some point I just decided that the absence of women who paved the exact path was not going to bother me.” Dunwoody also said excellence is the bottom line in the face of potential discrimination and double standards for women. “You take their comments with a grain of salt and then you just … let it be their problem,” Dunwoody said. “But when you perform and you meet the standard, [even] exceed the standard … those biases dissolve.” Thompson asked the women if they had to put aside their femininity to earn the respect of male subordinates. “I just tried to be myself,” Flournoy said. “I know that there are some women who have tried to be more masculine as a way of being in a man’s world or more feminine.” “I have tried, I have figured that the best thing I can be is just to be myself and let that speak for itself and focus on making a contribution and being excellent and helping the team accomplish its goals.” “I don’t believe you have to give up your femininity to be in any profession, nor do I believe you have to use your femininity to gain anything” Dunwoody said. Thompson asked Dunwoody about the challenges in commanding large groups of men after the integration of women into the army. “I see soldiers in uniform; I don’t see men and women,” Dunwoody said. “I see soldiers. And I wanted to be the best soldier I could possibly be and the best leader I could possibly be and a leader is taking care of people.” “When you care about your people and you take care of them and they trust you, they will follow you. And they know that you’re trying to do the right thing for the right reason. They will follow you.” Flournoy said a poster hung on the first day of the transition to the Obama administration in Pentagon headquarters captured the guiding principle in her work. “No ego, no drama, this is not about you,” she said. “You have to come to work every day willing to lose your job if it’s important to speak up, to say what you think is true even if you think it could make you lose your job. If you’re not willing to do that, you should not be here.” Thompson asked Dunwoody and Flournoy about the difference in leadership styles between men and women. “I think women generally, normally are better engagers and communicators, because they care,” Dunwoody said. “How we have to challenge that is overcoming the perception that leadership is macho, yelling, screaming, telling and men are decisive … and women are emotional, indecisive and impassive.” “But look at every profession now,” she said. “Women are at the top.” Contact Lesley Stevenson at    [email protected]last_img read more

Men to walk against domestic violence

first_imgThis Saturday, more than 100 local men will don three-inch, red high-heels and walk through downtown South Bend for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” to raise awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault and raise money for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). Amanda Ceravolo, director of development and communications for the North Central Indiana YWCA shelter, said the event, officially titled the YWCA’s “Men’s March to End Violence against Women,” offers men the opportunity to show solidarity for women who have been victims of violence, which is a community-wide issue. “Men really do want to be involved and are looking for ways to help,” Ceravolo said. “It’s also about showing that men can be and are vital parts of the solution to the problem.” Ceravolo said October, which is domestic violence awareness month, offers the perfect opportunity for such an event to begin dialogues about the issue and resources available locally. One fact to consider is that every nine seconds a woman in the United States is beaten or assaulted, she said. “All men come out and for different reasons, but we always remind [people that] one in four women can be a victim of sexual assault,” Ceravolo said. “This could be your wife, your mom, your sister, your daughter. Anyone can be impacted by violence against women.” According to the Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, with more victims than car accidents, mugging, and rapes combined. The YWCA of North Central Indiana is the largest service provider for sexual assault and domestic violence victims in the area, Ceravolo said, and serves over 1,500 women and children each year from St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. “The vast majority of people staying here are fleeing from violence in their lives,” she said. Funds raised by the walk will specifically benefit domestic violence and sexual assault programs, including the “New Hope” treatment program, which provides counseling for victims of rape, sexual assault, incest, and sexual abuse, gives immediate shelter to victim, and fosters community outreach programs. Another important program that benefits from the annual walk is “CourtWatch,” which monitors domestic violence cases in county courts to help victims. Ceravolo said other rape centers nationally participate in similar “Walk a Mile” events, now in their fourth year. She said in the past, the walks have raised significant and needed funds, which comes both from registration fees and money collected by the men around the route. “A lot of money comes in the day of. In the past we’ve raised between $15,000 and $20,000 for every year we’ve been [doing] it,” she said. “We thought that it would be a great and fun way to engage men in the mission of the YWCA.” Ceravolo said this year, the event was moved to downtown South Bend from Coveleski Stadium to encourage local businesses to participate, many of whom will have tables out with food and coupons for the male participants. Male Notre Dame students annually participate in “Walk a Mile in her Shoes,” represented by a team organized by the student club Men against Violence (MAV). She said the enthusiastic men ran the course last year in their heels. “They have been represented in all of our walks,” she said. “We absolutely love it. They contacted us the first year and wanted to get involved, and we said absolutely, we want you there.” Senior Jack Toscano, former president of MAV, said participating in the event follows the club’s mission of ending sexual and domestic violence at Notre Dame and in the greater community. “‘Walk a Mile’ gave us a chance to both branch out and help the South Bend community,” Toscano said. “Violence against women is extremely relevant, especially in light of the recent reported sexual assaults. There is no excuse for that being a part of the Notre Dame community.” Toscano, who plans to participate in the event for his second time this Saturday, said the walk could be fun too. “The heels were very awkward at first,” he said. “You gain an appreciation for how much heels suck.” The event will take place this Saturday, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m, starting at the College Football Hall of Fame Gridiron. Ceravolon said those interested in participating should preregister online at to secure their correct shoe size for the walk. Event registration will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, with minimum donations of $50 or $35 for students. Notre Dame students can also reach out to MAV to join their team.last_img read more

Student director engages campus in political debate

first_imgOn four Sunday mornings this semester and two last spring, student government sponsored Political Brew, during which members of student government and political clubs, as well as anyone interested in current events, gathered in the McNeill Room in LaFortune Student Center to watch and discuss NBC’s “Meet the Press.”Sophomore Elizabeth Fenton, who directs the National Engagement and Outreach (NEO) department of student government and organizes the brews, said student body president Lauren Vidal and vice president Matthew Devine, both seniors, suggested the idea at the beginning of their administration, and it soon became NEO’s primary event.“I thought it was a good idea, and then we hit the ground running with it with the first one, which was in April,” Fenton said. “All the subsequent ones I’ve just completely taken over myself. That’s the main thing that we do.”Fenton said each Political Brew has had a similar format: attendees come in, get bagels and coffee and watch “Meet the Press,” which frames the discussion that follows.“Depending on the show, if there’s a large topic that should be discussed immediately, I’ll mute the program and we’ll open the discussion,” Fenton said. “When discussion is closed I’ll turn ‘Meet the Press’ back on and continue the same forum. If not, at the commercial break I’ll mute it and we’ll recap what was just said on ‘Meet the Press,’ and we’ll discuss it that way.”Fenton said topics have ranged from the November midterm elections to the Ray Rice scandal.“It doesn’t necessarily have to be political, but most often current,” she said. “It just depends on what topic is on the program. If we want to talk about something I think is worth discussing – I’m very up to date on current events, so I’ll just throw out, ‘so what do you guys think of this?’ and that gets the conversation going.”Since the first political brew in April, attendance has risen from about 30 to approximately 50 people, Fenton said.Senior Michelle McCarthy, president of the College Democrats, said the event was a way for club members to speak with people with differing political views.“Political Brew is a great event where our members can come out and discuss current events with College Republicans and other attendees,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s beneficial because our members can engage in dialogue with students outside of College Democrats.”Senior Mark Gianfalla, president of College Republicans, said the group helped spread the word about the events, and he has seen positive reactions from club members.“It’s a nice way to start the morning on Sunday. It’s not too early,” he said. “There’s a nice spread for you if you show up. There’s some engagement in intelligent dialogue with others.”Political Brew can also appeal to students not affiliated with political clubs, Fenton said.“If they don’t come to talk they come to get more informed of what’s going on and to listen to the people who have a lot of information on current events,” she said. “…  From both groups we’ve gotten great feedback.”Fenton said she hopes faculty will attend Political Brews in the future and she wants to enlist the help of the administration or even NBC.“[The administration] actually contacted us two Political Brews ago, commending us for watching NBC because that’s what the school is affiliated with,” she said. “I didn’t even think of that when we chose ‘Meet the Press;’ I just thought it was a good middle ground between the parties, but they love it.”But the main goal, Fenton said, is to encourage people to keep up with current events.“The overall goal would be to get more people informed of what’s going on, because as much as people like to think they know what’s happening, a lot of people don’t, A, read newspapers, and B, don’t care enough to look into certain issues,” she said. “I’m hoping that by coming to Political Brew and listening to both sides of a point, that they can form their own opinions on certain issues.”Tags: Lauren Vidal, Matthew Devine, Political Brew, Politics, Student governmentlast_img read more

ND/SMC students promote ‘Love your Melon’

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Riley Chelsky Notre Dame students visit Memorial Hospital in South Bend to give hats to children battling cancer and their families on March 18.Since its inception in 2012, the Love Your Melon Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children with cancer, has built a network of over 900 ambassadors nationwide.The ambassadors, dubbed “Campus Crews” by the Foundation, help to advance the mission of Love Your Melon (LYM) to put a hat on every child battling cancer. The Foundation produces high-quality winter hats, beanies and baseball caps, and for every hat sold by ambassadors, another identical one is given to a child with cancer.Notre Dame has its own Campus Crew led by Crew Captain freshman Riley Chelsky. Chelsky said he introduced the program to Notre Dame this year.“One of my friends was part of Love Your Melon at Marquette, and so I decided to bring it here,” Chelsky said.Junior Leah Ramaekers said she started a Love Your Melon campus crew at Saint Mary’s this semester.“LYM campus crews do a lot of promotion with social media,” Ramaekers said.Ramaekers said if the Saint Mary’s LYM campus crew reaches 120 credits — 120 hat purchases credited to SMC online — the campus crew will host a donation event at the local hospital and hand out 120 hats to local patients.With the help of sophomore Paige Russell, Chelsky said he recruited 18 members to join the Notre Dame chapter.On March 19, the Notre Dame group visited South Bend Memorial Hospital and gave away hats to children and their families undergoing treatment for cancer.“We had 150 hats to donate,” Chelsky said. “It was a great donation event, and just seeing the smile on kids’ faces really made a difference.”Chelsky said he lost his own father to cancer and understands the strain of hospital life.“My dad really hated being in the hospital, so I can only imagine how much little kids hate being in the hospital,” he said.Typically customers support Campus Crews by purchasing Love Your Melon products online and selecting to support the Notre Dame or Saint Mary’s chapter at checkout. Customers will have the opportunity to purchase products on Notre Dame’s campus on April 8 at the Bald and the Beautiful graduate student event at Legends from 5 to 8 p.m.Ramaekers said students should buy a hat to benefit kids in local hospitals battling cancer.“I think it’s important for students to be involved with a campus crew to promote the ‘Buy One. Give One’ philosophy,” she said. “We have seen similar companies like TOMS promote this, which is great. I think the more we can promote and create awareness for ‘purchases with a purpose,’ the better community we can create.”Chelsky said the Notre Dame ambassadors are also helping with the women’s softball Strike Out Cancer event in April.“We are just trying to continuously grow and spread the word about Love Your Melon,” Chelsky said.Similarly, Ramaekers said she is hoping to develop the club over the next year and gain awareness on campus.Further information about the Notre Dame Campus Crew and its events are available on Instagram (@ndlymcrew), Facebook (University of Notre Dame Love Your Melon Campus Crew) and Twitter (@ndlymcrew).For interest in the Saint Mary’s Campus Crew, email [email protected]: cancer patients, hats, Love your Melon, Love your Melon campus crews, Notre Dame, saint mary’slast_img read more

Student-athletes collect old issue gear for charity

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Andrew Helmin Senior Katherine McManus donates issued lacrosse gear in North Dining Hall for the One Shirt, One Body initiative.Junior Andrew Helmin said he came up with the idea last semester when his roommate, junior football player Cole Luke, was about to throw out the old athletic shoes and cleats he had been issued by the athletic department. Helmin, who is a member of the Irish track and field team, asked Luke if he could bring them home to give to his younger brother and his friends. The positive reaction from the kids was overwhelming, Helmin said, and it inspired him to start collecting issue gear to donate to local charities. “They’re saying, ‘Cole Luke wore these shoes,’ and you can see the excitement on their faces,” Helmin said.The concept of One Shirt, One Body, Helmin said, is more than just the tangible process of giving clothes to those in need. Issue gear that has actually belonged to college athletes excites and uplifts the recipients, he said.“We’re trying to go for this message of higher education, promoting people’s goals and really inspiring these individuals,” Helmin said.Helmin said he recalls visiting South Bend’s Center for the Homeless to give out football shirts and was struck by the enthusiasm it generated among the Center’s residents.“Athletes have a very big role in the community, and this clothing can make a difference in people’s lives,” he said.Working with junior football player Corey Robinson, Helmin said One Shirt, One Body began as a pilot program through Notre Dame but has quickly spread to a number of other colleges.Robinson pitched One Shirt, One Body to the ACC student-athlete advisory committee, Helmin said, and the idea was quickly supported by ACC schools as a conference initiative.One Shirt, One Body will also be featured at the NCAA convention in San Antonio this coming January, and Helmin said he has ambitious plans to grow the initiative.“Our goal is to get all Division I, II and III schools running this collection,” he said.Helmin said the model of One Shirt, One Body gives autonomy to individual schools, which are responsible for collecting donations from their athletes and then selecting the organizations that will receive the apparel.“This makes it very appealing because it’s customizable, it’s easy to implement, and you’re making a big impact with this clothing,” Helmin said.The athletic conferences currently adopting One Shirt, One Body include the WAC, Conference USA, the Patriot League and the Big Sky Conference, Helmin said.The rapid growth of One Shirt, One Body has been exciting, Helmin said, but he wants to perfecting how the program runs.“A lot of what we’re doing now is just trial and error and seeing where we can keep improving,” he said.Helmin said the best way to support One Shirt, One Body is by spreading the word about it on social media and talking to friends at other schools that have not yet adopted the program.Tags: athletics, issue gear, notre dame athletic department, One Shirt one body A new student-run campaign is changing the way student-athletes use issue gear. “One Shirt, One Body” gathers excess athletic apparel from student-athletes and distributes it to organizations in the community.last_img read more

College launches presidential listening tour

first_imgSaint Mary’s president Jan Cervelli launched her Presidential Listening Tour: “A Foundation for the Future” on Sept. 2 to gather feedback to inform the College’s next strategic plan, according to a College press release.According to the release, Cervelli will hold a series of meetings and attend events throughout the academic year with students, faculty and staff, as well as other members of the Saint Mary’s community, such as alumnae, parents and trustees.Surveys will also be conducted to gather data and personal input from members of the community in order to find areas for improvement in the College.Former College president Carol Ann Mooney initiated the current strategic plan, called “Boldly Forward,” to cover the years 2012 to 2017. Over the summer of 2017, Cervelli will use the data collected during her listening tour to develop the next strategic plan.Cervelli said in the release that she encourages everyone in the campus and in alumnae communities, as well as friends and supporters of the College, to make their voices heard in shaping the College’s future.“Saint Mary’s proud tradition inspires and reminds us that, though our service to the College will be short in the full sweep of its history, the influence of decisions we make today will be felt much longer,” she said in the release. “What do we want our influence on Saint Mary’s to be?”In a previous interview with The Observer, Cervelli said the listening tour is an opportunity to hear from everyone involved with Saint Mary’s.“It’s my objective to meet as many people as possible in as many different venues, to listen to what people have to say about Saint Mary’s,” Cervelli said. “What they think of it today, what it means to them, how has it changed their lives, what works really well, what are some opportunities we’re missing and what are some things we could do better.“I’ve learned a great deal by asking more questions than I have talking, so I want to continue that through the year and you will see that I want to share what I’m hearing — I don’t want to just internalize it. I think it’s also a good opportunity for all of us to do a listening tour — to listen to each other, to get to know each other. While it’s a small campus, we have a lot to learn from each other.”According to Cervelli, upcoming events and other information about the listening tour can be found on the College’s website.“Anyone can get on [the website] and learn what I’m learning, can participate, can add,” Cervelli said. “I think it’s a great convening of who are we, who do we want to — where did we come from, and where are we going?”Tags: Jan Cerevelli, Listening Tour, saint mary’s, strategic planlast_img read more

Time to Heal dinner celebrates Relationship Violence Awareness Month

first_imgOne in three adult women and one in six adult men report having experienced some form of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, Elisabeth Vasko, associate professor of theology at Duquesne University, said in her keynote address for the Time to Heal dinner. Intimate relationship violence can happen to anyone, no matter age, background, race, orientation or gender, Vasko said,.“How can we keep letting this happen in our communities?” Vasko asked at the second annual dinner.In support of the survivors in the Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Saint Mary’s community, students, faculty, staff and community members convened Wednesday in the Dahnke Ballroom to commemorate Relationship Violence Awareness month.The dinner, coordinated by the Gender Relations Center (GRC), serves as an opportunity to show support for people who have been affected by power-based personal violence, John Johnstin, assistant director for outreach, student leadership and assessment at the GRC said.Mannequins in a black dress, Notre Dame athletic apparel and jeans and a tie-dye t-shirt, among other outfits, were accompanied by plaques with the words of survivors as part of the “What Were You Wearing?” survivor art installation. Mary Wyandt-Hiebert of the University of Arkansas and Jen Brockman of the University of Kansas created the installation in 2013 based Mary Simmerling’s poem “What I Was Wearing.” Brockman and Wyandt-Hierbert interviewed survivors, asked them what they were wearing when they were assaulted and recreated what the survivors described.The installation travels the world, using the same quotes from survivors but allowing institutions to take their own donations for clothing, Johnstin said.“Each [display piece] is different but courageously offers insight to how we both individually and collectively can become beacons of hope and compassion.” Christine Gebhardt, director of the GRC, said. “Our call is to carry these stories with them. By sharing stories and being present we send a message that when one of us is harmed, we all are impacted.”Vasko recently published “Beyond Apathy: A Theology for Bystanders.” Throughout her presentation, Vasko stressed the importance of asking uncomfortable questions in creating change.“Intimate partner violence can take many different forms,” she said. “Irrespective of the circumstances, healing is hard. Despite our best intentions, as communities, we continue to miss this point.”Intimate partner violence takes place when a person believes they are “entitled to control their partner,” Vasko said. This may mean a partner is isolated from friends and family, controlled financially, blamed for violent behavior or experiences physical or sexual violence. The statistical likelihood of intimate partner violence can vary by a person’s gender, ethnicity, orientation and ability. As a society, we are taught to accept sexual violence through everyday materials from Disney movies to ad campaigns, which makes it difficult to recognize intimate partner violence, she said.“Boys will be taught that a certain amount of threat is an acceptable expression of masculinity,” Vasko said.To enact social change, Vasko said, one must learn to critique such norms of society. She endorsed adopting an intersectional approach to violence intervention by taking race and sexuality, gender, orientation and class into consideration, and including people of color and the LGBTQ community in the conversation. Societal change won’t come quickly or easily, she said, and it is imperative that those seeking change stay in the conversation for a long-term solution rather than a quick fix.“Because this kind of violence that you’re talking about this month is so hidden, you have to reorganize your time to be able to notice it,” Vasko said. “ … Compassion takes time.”The final event for Relationship Violence Awareness month is the Fall Festival, which will take place on Oct. 30 from 2-4 p.m. on Fieldhouse Mall.Tags: Gender Relations Center, Relationship Violence Awareness Month, time to heal dinnerlast_img read more

Possible CCTV cameras outside dorm entrances mentioned at senate meeting

first_imgIn its weekly Wednesday meeting, the student senate met with Heather Rakoczy Russell, associate vice president for residential life, and Keri Kei Shibata, chief of the Notre Dame Police Department (NDPD), to discuss the new rules implemented this year about residence life card access policy and some potential future safety measures such as police-operated CCTV cameras at the entrance to each dorm. The meeting began with a brief overview from the University leaders about the new policy and its motivations.In response to a question about how NDPD can keep track of who is entering and exiting a dorm for security purposes, Shibata said the force is looking at installing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras to monitor dorm entrances and exits. Observer File Photo Notre Dame Police Department chief Keri Kei Shibata, right, speaks at an event in 2017. Shibata met with student senate Wednesday to discuss new residential rules implemented this year.“You guys don’t know this yet, but we are looking at adding CCTV cameras to cover the main entrances and exits of the dorms, not inside the halls throughout, but just covering those entrances so that we would have that ability and the problem of holding open doors and the fact that was occurring long before this policy was ever in place tells us that there was a gap even before this became the policy,” she said.Shibata said only police would have access to this footage.“There will be very strict guidelines about who has access — it will be the police only that have access to that video used for very strict purposes of investigating or if there is something going on following an incident for criminal or safety purposes,” she said.The prospect of CCTV cameras being in the dorm did not sit well with some of the senators who asked more questions about the topic.“If there was a student referendum, and it showed that students were very, very, strongly against the addition of security cameras into the main corridors of our dorms, would you guys not add it?” Daniel Feldmeier asked, a sophomore from Siegfried.Shibata said the University would try to do the “right thing.”“We would listen and try to understand why, but if we strongly believe that this is the right thing to do, then we need to do it whether it’s student opinion that it should be or not,” Shibata said.Russell clarified very quickly that these cameras would not be in the main corridors but facing the main entrance and exits of the dorms.Shibata also said the University decided that the past strategy whereby the locksmith office handled dorm access was no longer feasible.“Previously access control was really handled by the locksmith office, and maintenance and their department have changed a little bit,” Shibata said. “The University has come to realize that the locksmith’s office should certainly implement door hardware, the access control system and things like that, but that it shouldn’t necessarily control policy of access control, and so we put together a working group and a higher level steering committee to take a look at access control across campus and establish the right policies for campus; … Ultimately, it will result in some broader policy and probably not a whole lot of difference in people’s daily experience.”Russell addressed the context for the policy change. She brought up three main points about how the world has increasingly become more unsafe in recent years: more domestic terrorism, the fact there are now current Notre Dame students who are survivors of mass shootings with post-traumatic stress and current and past Title IX cases with both parties being Notre Dame students.“In terms of what informed the decision, I would go back to what I said a moment ago which is assessment as our standard of excellence for making these kinds of decisions at an institution like Notre Dame and also at our peer institutions. The first kind of test we looked at is what we called an Administrative Unit Review (AUR),” Russell said. “It is a process that our vice president for student affairs, Erin Hoffmann Harding, when she became vice president eight years ago, asked every department in the division of student affairs to undergo. At the time, Residential Life was called the Office of Housing and it was the first office to undergo an AUR.”Russell explained further that Notre Dame looked at four peer institutions who then formally reviewed the University’s self study at the time. The biggest concern amongst those universities was safety and security. A second tool used was benchmarking Notre Dame’s standards against similar institutions in the category of safety. Lastly, they began using National Best Practices as a guidance policy.She briefly detailed each guideline. The first guideline entails that residence hall doors are locked at all times. The second entails that access to the dorm is limited to only those living in that dorm. The third specifies that all dorm traffic must be directed towards one central entrance outside visiting hours. The fourth is the presence of a card reader access system. The fifth is a general education for the community of safety standards.“Informed by the AUR, benchmarking against various schools some of which I mentioned, and the national best practices — five of which are relevant here — that started to inform what looked like the policy that you heard announced in early August,” Russell said.Senators proceeded to ask Russell and Shibata questions about the new policy. Some questions centered around the issue of stalkers on campus.“Beforehand, if you couldn’t swipe into a dorm, you didn’t belong. People asked you ‘why are you here?’ or ‘who do you know?’ Beforehand, if someone was following you or you thought you were being stalked by someone who doesn’t live at Notre Dame, you could dip into a dorm and hide,” Quentin Colo, an off campus senior, said. “But now people are just letting anyone in; they just assume you are from another dorm, or now, if you are being stalked, you have to go back to your own dorm and the person has to follow you there. … Have you considered that this policy will make campus more unsafe than safer?”Russell and Shibata addressed the issue together talking about an experience last year with two real students waking up to their stalker outside their dorm door and that stalkers are much more likely to be someone you are close to as opposed to a complete stranger. Russell also expressed disappointment in students letting everyone inside the dorm and that she had begun educating hall staff on having residents follow the new dorm policy.Later in the meeting, the issue of stalking was brought back to light when discussing the number of stalking incidents per year. Shibata refuted the perception that stalking is done by strangers and not familiar faces; Russell also clarified that theft is the most common crime on campus.“This decision wasn’t made just because of stalking cases,” Russell said, “What is rampant, is theft, and it’s what rectors and hall staffs are regularly contacted about.”One of the broad concerns from the senate was the effect of the policy on the sense of community present at Notre Dame.“Campus living at Notre Dame is fundamentally different than every other school; there is nothing really comparable to Notre Dame because our dorms mean so much to the students, the dorm community means so much,” D.C. Morris, a junior from Fisher Hall, said.While discussion was beginning to wrap up, there was questions about whether the documentation the University used for their policy could be made available.“You repeated a lot of talking points over and over again, referring to these studies or councils that you formed,” sophomore Thomas Davis, the senate parliamentarian, said. “I was wondering if you would be willing to share all documentation from those with the student senate so that we can review them in order to understand what direction exactly these points lead to and if we would choose the same decision coming from our perspective, the people who actually live on the student’s halls.”Russell said she could not share that information.“No, and for the reason that I would not be able — so it’s not a matter of wanting which was your question — the reason I would not be able to share the benchmarking and National Best Practices is because I don’t own that data,” Russell said. “It comes from other institutions, not our own. It is not my public property or my intellectual property to share.”Other topics that came up at the meeting include the beginning of this year’s Race Relations Week, which runs from September 20 to 27. There will be events every day next week relating to the event.Tags: NDPD, Senate, swipe accesslast_img read more